Countries/territories visited: .pt, .es, .fr, .de, .ch, .at, .hu, .sk, .li, .cz, .lu, .it, .si, .hr, .ba
The New Year begins with a walk down by the Marina
From there we go around the cliffs to the beach. There is no sign that there was a huge party here just a few hours ago.
Time goes by with walks, visits to the cinema, showing, lots of coffee and good food.
Zoa continues to be an early riser, so I get to see a few of these:
On the 13-JAN, on the way to the first coffee of the day there is a 99% gibbous Waning still up there.
19-JAN For a few days we get a bitter cold wind from the North - unusual this.
6-FEB A lovely day by the beach at Baixihna, close to the Vilamoura Maina.
And then there's the beach at Galé, sometimes with waves, sometimes not. Here it is after some rain.
Just up the road is a café which has this "hidden" washbasin.
And the blossom is out, as is the Borage.
As the sun comes up over the Bus Station
Albufeira with a rough sea, from the port.
Sunday Lunch with Zoa. Where's the beef?
And a fellow past-camper takes us out for fish. Yumm
4-MAR We leave Albufeira having said goodbye and take the motorway.
Stopping for a fill-up in Sevilla we then drive down the coast, not pretty until we find a spot to park at Conil. Several other vans there, but the Spaniards are stil celebrating Carnival, so none too quiet.
After two night we go to Tarifa where the usual parking is no longer available, so we head to the Nature Park Beach.
|Tarifa Nature Beach Parking||A long line of vans and the Cafés are not yet open||36.04761||5.64081|
Africa can be seen
and so too a number of happy kite-surfers.
First a dump, a fill of fresh water and diesel at a new facility
|Fill-up Tarifa||Black water, grey water, fresh water and diesel at a fair price||36.04762||5.64081|
It's then on past The Straights
and to the parking under The Rock. How much longer will this spit of land be a UK jurisdiction post-Brexit? Then there is the issue of all those Expats enjoying the sun on the Spanish coasts. "May you live in Interesting times?"
|La Linea Parking||A view of The Rock, especially at night compensates for a dusty parking facility. No services||36.15904||5.33901|
12-MAR around the coast to Estapona, a carpark near to the marina.
|Estapona Parking||Dusty and especially crowded on Sunday.||36.41380||5.16117|
The mimosa is out, in huge quanties. It reminds me of Madeira.
The moon is still around in the morning.
Of course we have to spend some time at Cabopino, if only for Zoa to stretch his legs on the beach of a morning and meet some doggie friends. Some of whom are less than keen to be confronted with such a bouncy youngster. And who can blame them?
|Cabopino Campsite||Full service site.||36.41380||5.16117|
This is what it's like in the early morning - with a flashing dog.
Nice flowers on the site too:
And the sun goes down before my sister arrives.
A trip to the Caminito el Rey is overdue, so in spite of problems getting there (the road being closed and going the wrong way for 20 klicks too) it turned out to be a good day.
10-APR and it's on to Motril to meet friends and their dog for a few days, but there is work to do - a translation for the WWF - interesting.
|Motril Campsite||Full service site. Out of the wind, lots of kids at Easter. Nice people.||36.71812||3.51745|
Zoa enjoys the beach in the evening and the morning when it's dark and the only people we meet are fishing. We go into the hills for a meal, spectacular views. Sunny and really warm.
18-APR off we go after re-fuelling, gas and shopping. Pass by a lot of hills up to Granada and then we hit the olive groves and the Spanish plateau. No rain - 32 degrees.
Next stop is Ruidera, but the campsite is closed, so we just park up - all OK. A walk around the lake for a while doesn't hurt either.
|Ruidera Parking||Next to a park by the lake, otherwise nothing here. Quiet||38.97410||2.88682|
In the morning it is 11 degrees and real wind as we head off towards the north. Klick after klick of agriculture, no wonder small farms can't compete. Then, after Cuenca (a big town, not good access so we didn't see the cliff houses) we hit the CM 2105 - what a delight.
and then, even better the CM 2119
Almost nobody on the road - just as I like it.
|Zaragoza Parking||Nothing here, but quiet - next to an amusement park.||41.61994||0.90122|
A quiet night with some walks in the surrounding woodland.
The drive to the next stop is uneventful, except I didn't change the GPS, so ended up paying for a motorway.
|Pamplona Parking||Not too far from the northern reaches of the city, a few shops.||42.84164||1.66639|
We wanted to go into the city, but the bus wouldn't take us (classic anti-canine regulations), so I had coffee instead and walked around the parking area.
The following morning we head into
A lot of traffic on the small roads (we decided to not take the motorway). Stock up at shops, clean Ruth and go to park at a familiar place:
|Ondres Parking||Now €8 with toilets (I use the café after coffee), waste disposal and electricity if you get here early.||43.57622||1.48694|
Good walks on the beach during the day and in the morning as the sun comes up.
With a stop on the beach up the coast at an even nicer place. The facilities are all closed it not being August in France - chuckle.
we then go on to a sleepy French village where the stars are out and one or two shooters too.
|Nieulle-sur-Seudre Aire||Water services in a lovely quiet, typically French village.||45.75248||1.00210|
Then across country to a free site.
|Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule Aire||Beside a river, lots of spaces = lots of vans.||46.31389||03.29509|
Then to the breeder near Beaune for a few days. Vizslas galore.
As with Miloš, Zoa is not keen on cows....
before on to
At the usual parking place in the city of Freiburg.
|Freiburg Parking||Beside a stream and 2 klicks from the town through a park.||47.99962||07.82507|
Ruth gets a set of new tyres, c/o "Nunc Est bibendum" (Now let us drink!). I get some victuals too.
I wonder if can overdose on these two?
How advanced these people are.
Beside the flat river in the morning.
And the local cathedral is now ready for the Annual Nun's Bungiejump.
The rain comes, so what to do?
The city has a bridge for cyclists and a garage too, with a bar and all mod cons.
On 1-MAY the kids get a treat while the workers have a meeting with sausages and bier.
On this road up from Freiburg to the Black Forest
And past the Titisee onto the Schluchsee
To see my boys, friends and have the eyes fixed. Near the Vet there is a Wisteria Tree
And above Stäfa there is a great view of the Alps
And after two eye operations and meeting a number of friends it's off again, this time to
With a long drive to Innsbruck where there is a long traffic jam due to it being a holiday and the Bremer Pass is bump-to-bumper. Still no real problems, we pass through Kitzbuhel and on to Mittersil where we spend two nights before being moved on
|Mittersil Parking||Nice parking, but not actually allowed - I saw the sign the following day. We were asked to move on, which we quickly did.||47.27886||12.47597|
We stop for coffee and are delighted to see this sign:
Then a lovely drive through the valleys to an old mining community.
|Vorderberg Parking||A couple of spaces with services (water and electricity - payable) beside the water and the road||47.48494||14.99160|
One of the largest rack railway engines ever made.
And Zoa gets to play with another Vizsla.
And then a time-out near Vienna and a visit to the Myra Falls
A number of weeks recovering from the effects of the eye operations near Vienna with a good friend and then it's off to
I think the French built the roads here about 30 years ago. Shaken not stired. We take the main road and then some side roads to Lake Balaton.
|Balaton Tourist Campsite||On the lake, flat, nice.||46.88110||17.75452|
Then a (relatively) short drive to Budapest.
|Arena Campsite||Out of the way and full of vans and caravans from Ireland - not your usual campers. Good services, poor Wifi and unsteady electrical current.||46.88110||17.75452|
I haven't been here since 1974 when I drove a red Volksporsche with a Swiss musician (Willy Roth) to the city. We stayed in a tourist hotel. There was a great deal of pollution from 2-stroke cars, Skoda, Wartburg and some Trabis. The place was mostly grey, few bright colours. The only entertainment we could find - apart from restaurants was the hotel's night club - full of Russian officers.
The journey continues across Hungary with large fertile fields, two-lane roads stuffed with trucks passing through villages with somewhat neglected housing, to
By way of a narrow backroad we go close to Kosiçe where I had been 15 years back. I had forgotten a few things about this country: 1)Bad roads 2)Loudspeakers in the villages 3)Romany ghettos and finally 4)well-funded churches. Still, the countryside is rolling hills and flat river valleys.
We travel up and down and eventually find a secluded campsite.
|Levoca Dolina Campsite||All grassy site between large trees. Very quiet. €15||49.05048||20.58655|
Then up to the Tatra hills where there is a large skiing area which in Summer is full of kids going for a walk.
A very isolated campsite is a good place to rest, except the awning is blown onto the roof and exiting the site has to be done backwards because the stones on the track are too dry and the path too steep. Still, it worked.
|Dobra Luca Campsite||Along a single-track road in the hills. Nudist. Lots of farm animals run by a friendly Dutch couple. Large area for vans. A difficult exit path on gravel. €17 per night.||48.45605||19.24211|
Then via Bratislava, with lunch overlooking the Danube.
Then back into
|Wiener Neustadt Statium Parking||Nothing here, a bit noisy because of the through-traffic.||47.82156||16.25629|
Then a few days in the area before going on towards Salzburg, but with a stop for a walk in the hills at Gmunden.
|Gmunden Cable Car Parking||Underneath the cable car. Not officially allowed but ticket staff said people do stay the night. Toilets||47.91246||13.80852|
And in the evening a storm brews.
Then we pass by Salzburg into
We take a brief pause beside the Chiemsee.
And then into the hills for a walk
|Schliersee Parking||Great location beside the lake. Unfriendly collector of the filthy Luca.||47.66648||11.88851|
Ruth needs a few bits and pieces, so we head to Bad Waldsee.
|Hymer Service Parking||No services. There used to be free electricity, but, no more. Wifi in the showroom during working hours.||47.92741||09.75831|
It turns out we couldn't get any of the bits we need because they all have to be ordered, so on for a visit to the Celtic settlement at Heuneburg (circa 2'500 years back) where the wheat is being harvested and a number of birds of prey are circling for any loose mice.
We then spend a night in the middle of Messkirch, not a great site.
|Messkirch Parking||Public WC. Noisy during the day close to supermarkets.||47.9935||9.11496|
I decide we could go to see the castles, so spend a couple of nights not too far away at Wald which is classic Bavarian countryside with good walks through the woods. (im Wald in Wald.)
|Wald Parking||Public WC. Noisy during the day close to supermarkets.||47.723||10.5638|
Then we get to see the two castles and museum
before crossing into
To take the hilly (if not mountainous) route back to the Rhine where we stay for a night in
A parking in the midddle of Vaduz
|Vaduz Parking||Just a car park.||47.1286||9.52384|
Before visiting good friends and parked up for the night at their place in
After which it's back to Zurich and 3 nights with my son up in the Alps at Churwalden
|Pradafenz Campsite||This place is the pinacle - and one pays for it.||46.77695||9.54114|
Long walk during which Zoa gets buzzed by a cow fence and belts out a lot of unhappyness. The weather is changeable which is a relief after exceedingly hot days.
Back in Zurich I meet my other son and an old friend for lunch too before heading back to
|Breisach Parking||Simple right beside the river Rhine. Wifi (not free) from the French side. Close to the weir.||48.02972||7.57539|
Many years ago I was involved in a programme to support research in universities by allowing a discount on Vax computers. For this I was in Italy with a delightful man called Bernini. He introduced me to Ruccola which I understood to be difficult to cultivate. On the banks of the Rhine it grows wild.
As we walk into the village, a resident is cutting his grass - and the pungent smell of Ruccola fills the air - delightful!
The route then goes up to the Black Forest and down to the ancient Celtic settlement at Huenenburg again where we spend a quiet night.
|Huenenburg Site Parking||No services but a magical place.||48.09458||9.40796|
A number of things need to be bought so we head back to Bad Waldsee for a night at the Erwin Hymer Museum
|Hymer Museum Parking||No services but a pleasant café with friendly staff. No Wifi.||47.93699||9.76120|
The following day it's a tour of the factory for me while Zoa sweats it out in the van. It all begins with a CNC machine cutting out the bits of compressed wood, rolls of aluminium and a FIAT chassis.....
Directly to Arbon
|Arbon Harbour Parking||No services but there is the "Wunderbar" which has Wifi too.||47.51306||9.43960|
to the Open Air Cinema to meet son Dustin and watch a teenager flick with the rest of the ghost community.
And as sure as the sun rises...
Then to Zurich to spend a few days with a good friend and also get to go to the movies as well as swim in the lake. On the road again back to Arbon before heading to
Nurnberg for a quiet overnight stay next to a huge park.
|Nurnberg Parking||No services.||49.42327||11.10641|
The mobilehome carpark in Leipzig is close to an old villa with folly and a pond.
|Leipzig Parking||No services.||51.28573||12.38237|
We go an walk to the "Volkermorddenkmal" and take some pictures, what a mammoth it is - imposing.
|Dresden Parking||No services. Officially a grill location.||51.06331||13.72904|
It is pretty warm these days, we walk along the river and into the city for coffee. The old Robotron building has been almost completely demolished.
After 3 nights we leave and go to
After a visit to Decin we decide not to stay, the campsite is in between two bridges and very noisy, so we drive beside the Elbe river to Hrensko and cross back into
Where we go to a lovely tourist sport - The Bastei.
A real parking rip-off!
The ACSI book shows a campsite next to a lake and we drive there.
|Lauchhammer Campsite||A very nice site with all the facilities but both the Wifi and Electricity has to be paid for extra. A lovely beach as well as an FKK beach and one for dogs too.||51.50740||13.66858|
A number of holiday homes as we walk around the lake. The lake is the remains of a brown coal site.
Then on to Magdeburg to "Die Kirche" - a restaurant.
What a great use for a church - they should all be like this, or Youth Hostels, or Bike Repair workshops, or .....
We also get to see the massive canal bridge, over the Elbe, built since the Berlin wall was dismantled.
This is the same concept as the one over the Loire at Briare. Of course technology has changed and the modern construction doesn't have the same elegance as engineering used to insist on back in the day.
|Canal Parking Calvörde||A small harbour on the canal, Electric and toilets/showers||52.38376||11.30053|
A quiet place, run by the local club. Good walks alongside the canal. Then it's onwards to Perleberg.
|Perleberg Parking||Nothing here, but free, close to the town.||53.08076||11.86255|
A rather pleasant old town which, as much of Eastern Germany, fell into disrepair under the communist regime. So much money has been poured into the "New Bundesländer" that things are largely back to normal now.
We walk around this old town - pretty and relaxed, and then head over to the History Museum of the DDR where I have a lot of discussion with the very helpful pair who run it. Gisela and Hans-Peter Freimark. Well worth a visit. It is necessary to keep the system in people's minds and retain the information as to how it was for 40 years.
So much to discuss, how bad it was because the initial expectations were so high, but the leaders (many of whom still figure in public life) went for power and ended up destroying the whole concept. I much enjoyed hearing from Gisela and Hans-peter. They are doing the very best they can to keep the facts alive and even to expand their work to include other failures going back to the 1800s. Goodness knows what will happen when they pass on.
Then after coffee and Wifi at the usual place we spend a few nights parked up beside the river, for morning bike rides, etc...
|Wittenberge Parking||Beside the Elbe. €7.5 per night, electric, showers extra. Watch out for the "Hafenmeister" - he collects the fees!||52.99115||11.74325|
|Hitzacker Parking||Free parking close to the village. Free toilets.||53.14967||11.05041|
And then there are far too many poppies....
|Stover Strand Mobilehome Parking||€12.5 per night with toilets. Wifi €3 per day||53.42421||10.29059|
This a great site for walks along the riverbank in the morning as the sun rises.
Onwards to see if the Grossensee is interesting.
|ABC Camping Gossensee (ACSI)||€25 per night (ouch) with all the services and Wifi, friendly receptionist. ENglish language student.|
and we discover it isn't such a great place, especially in the rain and there isn't a walk around the lake, just up to the woods. So then it's on to Hamburg, but we discover a lot of the roads are blocked - it is the Summer after all, so we end up back beside the Elbe, next to a ferry terminal.
|Hoopter Parking||Free, no services||53.39480||10.17354|
31-AUG and it's on to Wolfsburg, but decide against going to see the car museum again. Still we do walk around the stadium and end up parked up a bit further on.
|Wolfsburg Parking||Free, no services. This is a carpark near to the Sports Center. Some lorries also parked up.||52.43827||10.81091|
Then it's time to go and look at the German whose name is - Herman. The Hermansdenkmal.
The night is spent beside a lake in Paderborn
|Lippesee (Paderborn) Parking||Free, no services||51.76021||08.67824|
|Möhnesee Parking||Free, no services||51.49129||08.12555|
After an early morning swim we take a look at the dam.
Then onwards towads Bonn, as Garmin decides to go on strike.
|Unkel Parking||Free, services||50.59865||07.21787|
We then find a nice spot for the night - free of course.
Time for a bit of a play.
Then from Koblenz it is up the Mosel, the German part which is very pretty with a lot of older bikers. I really easy ride even up river. Finally arriving at a very scruffy Camper van parking.
|Pünderich Parking||€7.5 plus electric.||50.04362||07.12553|
Then we visit Schengen in
Where it is raining, but a few photos nonetheless.
I am a very pro-European - which includes the idea and reality of the EU.
No UK flag - why is that?
For a night at Millery
|Millery Parking||No services||48.8159||06.12701|
And on the way south we visit Colline de Sion and see this fellow - the famous Joe
who has this terrific view.
Coffee before we head to friends further south at L'Etang Joli
I get to help repairing the roof on a hut.
"If I had a Hammer..."
And we even complete the job.
Then we are off back to
to have a few things fixed on Ruth before another visit to
Where after some rain the weather improves and we go for a Sunday walk beside the lake.
I get to see frinds and family and go to the cinema.
Then it's off to Ticino, where Ruth the van gets a couple of hose downs meaning we spend time indoors, but we have been so lucky with the weather this summer. I see the place I installed VMS for the second VAX/780 system in Switzerland has lost both the boss - Dr. Lombardi and his right-hand man Ballabio this year.
|Locarno Camper Van Parking||Nominally SFr. 1 per hour, but I thought this was a rip-off. No services and the area was flooded. In the general area there is on-road parking for SFr. 3 per day and free overnight and at weekends.||46.16044||08.80138|
We then spend a night in the Manor carpark, free and close to the river for walks.
|Manor Supermarket Parking||No Services||46.16276||08.77631|
Then it's on to
Around the Lake Maggiore, what a very pleasant Autumn drive it is, even if the road is a tad narrow in places.
|Tenate Camper Van Parking||€10 for the night including electricity.||45.77890||08.69820|
There is also indoor boule for both old and young.
Then it's onward to Lake Garda for the night
|Campeggio del Garda Campsite||Expensive, but all facilities including a swimming pool, or three.||45.44834||10.69886|
Then, via Trieste into
For a night just over the border
|Miloki Bay Parking||Free, porta-toilets||45.59402||13.72351|
and in the evening we make
Along the coastal road to Piran, but it is impossible to find parking for a van, so onwards to
|Pula Stoja Campsite||This is on its own penninsular, full services.||44.85961||13.81470|
Lunch at Gina's
and some sightseeing
We then leave for the coastal route southwards for food at Mika's before
and the ferry
|Strasko Campsite||A really good site - a favourite||44.54066||14.88191|
The rain and thunderstorm is impressive - but we survive.
Then it's onwards down Pag island
And to Zadar to see the Sea Organ and the Sun Greeting
And further down to Primosten at a campside beside the sea.
|Adriatik Primosten Campsite||It used to feel better here, but still none too bad, all facilities.||43.60581||15.92135|
We have rain again as we take the road further south, past Togir and Split to
|Male Ciste Campsite||A well-tended site, all facilities, small, beside the sea - all white chips.||43.16763||17.20715|
20-SEP And into
From the fertile coastal area, up to the falls at Kravica
And on to Mostar, with a very expensive night at
|Hotel Kapetanovina Parking||Small with a view of the bridge.||43.33609||17.81422|
And, there is wailing during the day - and night - sometimes a duet. The route then continues down alongside the river to the fort at Capljina for coffee and a long, lovely drive through sparse mountains with burnt bushes via Stolac, Poplat and Ljubinje. Then lunch in Trebinje
and a back and sides with a side dish of inexpensive diesel, before heading back into
For several night at Kat'e place in Mlini.
|Kate's Campsite||Simple with sunshine. It has the advantage of price and a grand way to keep fit by walking down to, then up from the beach.||42.62415||18.20753|
This includes a trip by boat into Dubrovnik with a delicious fish lunch and ice cream.
We leave the port in this old Brittany Ferry
Maybe this can isn't too safe, otherwise why would they have included this section?
by Ferry and as we approach the harbour in Bari we see the burnt-out ferry which was such a disaster in 2014 in which 9 people died and 19 are still missing.
|Pino Di Lenne Beach Parking||Scruffy public beach site with early morning fishermen. The approach road is very bumpy.||40.50393||17.01520|
In the distance is the Oil Refinery at Taranto
Down the coast we come across a campsite where I can save on the washing.
|Pizzo Greco Campsite||Scruffy but not expensive off-season. Nice hot showers.||38.92210||17.12408|
After rain the cliffs have changed somewhat.
And, it's eggs again
Now off down the peninsular to the ferry over to Messina
where we make a wrong turn and get stuck in Italian traffic. They come at you from every which way here, and as for lane discipline, well many of the drivers here are just basically children. After a long day we arrive at Giardini Naxos.
|Eden Parking||Scruffy and they have put up their prices, now €7 per night - still there is now gravel all over, so no longer full of muddy pools.||37.82193||15.26725|
There is rain and then some more rain. However, if I walk my 10'000 steps I certainly end up with a warm body - why is this?
And, because of the rain I decide Ruth could do with a wash, so, in the rain I do just that. Oh, and Zoa gets a "most welcome" wash too. Haha.
Then it's full moon time.
And the sun rises from the other direction.
One of the local residents
And I decide I should attempt to cook (well fry in Olive Oil) the small fish so off I trudge to the local fisheria...
My upcoming supper:
It's Tuesday so we move on to order a new freezer door, have Brompton fixed as part of their recall operation - the bottom bracket in Catania, shopping at IKEA - biscuits, well crispbread, and Lidl for doggie treats and some other victuals. As the sun is setting we arrive in Marina di Ragusa.
|Municipal Parking||None too cool. noisy de to the dogs and afactory in the viscinity. Voluntary contribution, small in my case. Simple shower, washing machine, electricity and watter - all types.||36.77843||14.54680|
Won't be staying there again. We walk into the village and visit the marina where we stayed one night in 2011. Onwards to
|Luminoso Campsite||Still and excellent site, own toilet and only €8 per night, Wifi €15 for the month and electricity at € 0.35 for the Kilowatt.||36.81684||14.46599|
Delivery every day of bread, fruit and veg and fish. We go off to the beach nearby for a long walk most mornings.
A mystery house on the long beach.
And the wind comes and goes.
And a fine fishy meal with friends....
And there is a visit to the Vale of Templi in Agrigento.
And after the rain on the beach.
And so, the year ends on Sicily with sunshine, but also some strong winds.
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